At the end of February 2020, the Spanish newspaper “El País” reported that Enresa, the Spanish Andra or Nagra, would stop the construction project for the planned central interim storage facility “Almacén Temporal Centralizado (ATC)” in Villar de Cañas (province of Cuenca) in central Spain. The public company is closing the competition for the main work of the ATC, which the Partido Popular government has opened in 2014, the headline continued. The reasons for this step are many. Firstly, planning errors, including the choice of a site on an at least problematic geotechnically unstable, because clayey and swellable, gypsum-bearing and partly karstified geological subsoil, which had led to technical and political disputes and polemics. Then there were political disputes and polemics by and later between the national parties, which, in the event of a change of government, simply led to the policies of the previous government being overturned. Finally, similar political upheavals from conservative to progressive forces in the central Spanish meseta region of Castilla-La Mancha, on whose territory the planned interim storage facility would have been located, had led to a massive crisis of acceptance (Table 1).
Table 1: Compilation of important development data on ATC
The project stop has not yet been officially confirmed by Enresa. The company also did not disclose the reasons for this, nor did it explain the consequences for the strategic orientation of the Spanish waste management programs in the future. However, a glance at its website clearly shows the aim of interim storage in Spain: three nuclear power plants with four PWR reactors with a total electrical power of more than 3,200 MWe – Trillo (Guadalajara), Zorita (Guadalajara) and Ascó (Tarragona) – operate so-called “Almacenes Temporales [Autónomos] Individualizados” (Table 2). Trillo set up its external storage facility in 2002, still under the government of the conservative Prime Minister Aznar.
Table 2: Compilation of the Almacenes Temporales Individualizados – Individualized Temporary Storage Facilities of the Spanish NPP Park
* 1 storing space with 16 storing positions ** 2 storing spaces with 16 container positions
+ 2 storing spaces each with 12 storing positions
3 Cofrentes, 2019, Cofrentes inicia la construcción del Almacén Temporal Individualizado, 30/07/2019, https://www.cncofrentes.es/actualidad/noticias/detalle/190730_Inicio_construccion_ATI
These “Autonomous Individualized Interim Storage Facilities” are nothing different than the dry storage of spent fuel elements in steel-concrete or comparable containers under open air conditions, as practiced above all in the USA (see Figure 1). The other NPPs in Spain have also adopted this approach. The Almaraz NPP (Cáceres, 2 PWR reactors with more than 2’000 MWe capacity) also has such an interim storage facility. The Cofrentes NPP (Valencia, BWR with over 1,000 MWe capacity) has started construction of an “Individualized Autonomous Interim Storage Facility”, according to a company announcement dated 30 July 2019. These efforts are also underway for the Vandellós (Tarragona) NPP. The same is true for the Santa María de Garoña NPP (BWR 460 MWe), located on the upper course of the Ebro in the province of Burgos, which has been shut down since 2012 and which now has such an open-air storage facility with a maximum of 32 storing positions. 
Figure 1: “Steel and concrete blocks” in the open air, Ascó (left) and Zorita (right); see Ensa, 2018, Ensa carga con éxito 4 contenedores en el ATI de la CN de Ascó, Equipos Nucleares S.A., S.M.E (Ensa), 18 de junio 2018, https://www.ensa.es/es/ensa-carga-con-exito-4-contenedores-en-el-ati-de-la-cn-de-asco/ (07.03.2020) and https://www.foronuclear.org/es/el-experto-te-cuenta/123790-que-es-un-almacen-temporal-individualizado-ati
The need to construct interim storage facilities for high-level waste became apparent a dozen years ago, as the bilateral agreements with the UK and France for the treatment of nuclear fuel and other services expired in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Spain had already put the search for a site for geological repositories on hold at that time. The idea of following the Dutch example with the Covra/Habog interim storage facility was obvious. And when the political resistance formed and the new regional government of Castilla – La Mancha fought against the project, it was clear that the ATC interim storage facility would be difficult to implement and that replacement solutions would have to be found quickly.
“With reference to the data presented in” the reference “, electricity costs increase by only 1% -2% if the density of the SNF storage is 0.5 tonnes of heavy metal per square metre”, a technical article from 2019 clarifies the cost consequences of interim storage of spent fuel elements in special containers and under blue skies. Once again, it was short-term cost considerations that were decisive for the fact that the highly dangerous waste materials in storage containers were also placed in the open countryside in Spain! In steel-concrete containers, which were placed on a reinforced concrete floor of 1 m thickness and asphalt surfaces, nicely bordered by yellow lines or behind bars (Figure 1). Without further shielding such as reinforced building shells and above all without a natural geological protective cover.
This is therefore what the responsible operating companies and governments understand by responsible handling of this extremely dangerous goods. One simply shifts the responsibility into the future and creeps into the next practical constraint. “In a very short time, all nuclear power plants will have their own radioactive stacks, but this is not the final solution,” one observer already questioned this development in Spain in 2016. And continued: “These plants can hold the waste for about 20 years, but they not only have an expiration date, they are also very vulnerable when they are built outdoors, and then what? And then concluded, “They allow for a breather…” …. Yes, a breather that has lasted for more than 2 generations and is always based on the same game: The realization plans are adjusted backwards. And the risks and costs are pushed further and further into the future.
Winston Churchill’s saying – “keep muddling through” – quoted in connection with the end of the ATC in Villar de Cañas in El País on 5 March 2020 – unfortunately continues to muddle through – applies to waste management policy worldwide. With the entry into the peaceful use of nuclear energy, our modern industrial societies have put themselves in a particularly dramatic and risky position. The actual goal, the final disposal of waste in geological strata, has been missed in the last 7 decades years since the start of the commercial peaceful use of nuclear energy. None of the projects for final disposal planned or implemented so far have been successful, neither the projects in salt mines near Lyons Kansas (USA), in the Asse mine near Wolfenbüttel (RFA), in Morsleben (RFA), in the Felsenau mine and in Wellenberg (Switzerland), nor the much praised “Waste Isolation Pilot Plant WIPP” in the USA. The list of failed projects is endless. Very few cases have been processed. Hardly anything was remediated. And the bad news is multiplying. Camp Century in Greenland? Cactus Dome in the Marshall Islands? The now closed and covered uranium mine La Haba (Badajoz) with its waste from the Junta de Energía Nuclear (JEN) reactor accident in Madrid in the early 1970s?
One may call these conditions scandalous – but they are above all one thing: they are highly dangerous. In an increasingly destabilized world marked by violence and terror, the waste products of such a risk technology are not handled so carelessly, and are simply stored in the open air. And also not in concrete buildings on the surface in the long term. It is not a question of the interests and sensitivities of individual actors, whether they be the nuclear power industry, government bodies or politicians. It is about fundamental respect for both present and future generations. It is time, therefore, to come up with a better strategy, not just in terms of managing constraints and placing better concrete buckets in the landscape, but in terms of far-sighted, safer strategies for dealing with this highly hazardous waste. A fundamentally new orientation is needed in dealing with radioactive waste, as postulated, for example, by the “dual strategy”. This is not a matter of reinventing the world, but rather of bringing order to the current chaos of waste management planning, highlighting the problems and contradictions of the previous concept and outlining ways in which these can be better managed. 
In concrete terms, this means reassessing the entire chain of nuclear waste management. Starting with deep geological disposal, which has to been regularly reassessed, and whose implementation timetables must be closely monitored. Basic questions remain open that have not even been considered or dealt with, such as the effect of coupled processes, e.g. long-term damage to individual storage tunnels by the thermal pulse, deformations in the storage field and the associated hydraulic risks, the possibility of squeezing out water inflows following groundwater ingress, risk and safety analyses in the event of redistribution of pressure and rock deformation throughout the entire storage field. The implementation of deep geological repositories has been delayed for decades without the planners of such facilities ever providing any justification for the decades of delay. And the responsible authorities allow such behaviour. In Switzerland, too, it is worth remembering that in 1978 Nagra held out the prospect of commissioning the repository for high-level waste after 1990. At present, a timetable after 2060 is being mentioned, after this date has been postponed many times. In this way, in all waste management projects around the world, the timetables has been put off for decades, and ultimately leads to poor interim storage solutions being implemented under the cheapest possible conditions. Without an analysis of the complex risks associated with such a system. Without strategic options such as placing the waste in protected underground facilities and gaining time to develop the necessary deep geological disposal programs. Above all, however, without a real supervision that would intervene in the face of such arbitrary planning. All the more reason for the civil societies concerned to openly denounce these abuses and demand a fundamental remedy for these unsustainable conditions.
 Planelles, Manuel, 2020, Enresa renuncia al proyecto de construcción del almacén nuclear de Villar de Cañas, El País, 25 de febrero de 2010
 Ana María Isidora Losada, 2015, Subject to political capture? Nuclear Waste Governance in Spain, in Achim Brunnengräber et al., Nuclear Waste Governance, An International Comparision, Springer VS
 Mota, Jesús, 2020, El confuso futuro del almacén nuclear, Opinión, El País, 5 de marzo 2020
 The concept of “autonomous individualized interim storage facilities” is – as far as the construction of language and the obfuscation of the contents are concerned – in the tradition of terms such as “waste disposal park” or “fuel cycle”.
 López-Lago, J., 2018, El almacén temporal de la central nuclear de Almaraz recibe los últimos permisos, Hoy, 13 de septiembre 2018, https://www.hoy.es/prov-caceres/almacen-temporal-central-20180913214526-nt.html
 Central Nuclear de Cofrentes, 2019, Cofrentes inicia la construcción del Almacén Temporal Individualizado, Iberdrola, https://www.cncofrentes.es/actualidad/noticias/detalle/190730_Inicio_construccion_ATI (07.03.20).
 Maestre Andrés, Sara, 2017, El problema pendiente de los residuos nucleares. Estudio del conflicto del almacén temporal centralizado en Ascó (Catalunya, Estado Español), Revista de la Red Iberoamericana de Economía Ecológica, p.20, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/7a1b/f5e929393153740a1b19fee5ab33b8d51e79.pdf
 Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear, Web-Seite, https://www.csn.es/documents/10182/989190/Actividades%20destacadas%20de%20la%20CN%20de%20Santa%20Mar%C3%ADa%20de%20Garoña%20-%202018 (09.03.2020); https://www.csn.es/documents/10182/1865680/1453+-+1+Informe+-+CN+Garoña+Solicitud+de+autorización+de+la+modificación+de+diseño+para+la+puesta+en+servicio+del+ATI+de+combustible+gastado/526f6398-2a45-4771-813c-93d0e96d5962 (09.03.2020);
 Ana María Isidora Losada, 2015, S. 335.
 Toshinsky, Georgy, Grigoriev, Sergey, Dedul, Alexander, Komlev, Oleg, Tormyshev, Ivan, 2019, Safe Controlled Storage of SVBR-100 Spent Nuclear Fuel in the Extended-Range Future, World Journal of Nuclear Science and Technology. 09. 127-139. 10.4236/wjnst.2019.93009: „With reference to the data presented in , the cost of such storage heightens the cost of electricity only by 1% -2% upon the density of SNF storage being 0.5 tons of heavy metal per square meter.“
 Cordis, o. J. (kein Publiakationsdatum), Novel concept of cost-effective hybrid concrete/steel Auxiliary Shielding Module for enhancing the Radiological, Thermal and Structural behaviour of Spent Nuclear Fuel Dry Storage metallic casks, Europäische Kommission, Forschungsergebnisse der EU, https://cordis.europa.eu/article/id/300387-new-solution-for-openair-spent-nuclear-fuel-dry-storage/de (07.03.2020)
 Ojea, Laura, 2016, Todas las centrales nucleares tendrán su propio almacén temporal individualizado a la espera del ATC, El periódico de la energía, 09.11.2016, https://elperiodicodelaenergia.com/todas-las-centrales-nucleares-tendran-su-propio-almacen-temporal-individualizado-a-la-espera-del-atc/
 siehe auch https://www.nuclearwaste.info/zur-planung-einer-komplexen-wissenschaftlichen-herausforderung/